Charles Lloyd tenor saxophone
Bobo Stenson piano
Anders Jormin bass
Billy Hart drums
Recorded July 1993 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
With The Call, tenorist Charles Lloyd really began to hit his ECM stride. Having pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin, and drummer Billy Hart didn’t hurt, either. “It’s a full-service orchestra of love,” Lloyd once said in reference to this lineup. I decline to come up with a more fitting slogan, for the tender ode of “Nocturne” that opens this set of nine originals is bursting with it, that love which bears the weight of dreams on its shoulders and sews itself into the quilt of history, one patch at a time. Stenson rings true, here as throughout, blending us into “Song” with a mélange of pointillism and legato undercurrents as Jormin’s buoyant solo carries us deeper into this moonlit cave. That Lloyd only joins in three quarters of the way through a nearly 13-minute odyssey betrays his humility. His selfless expression uncurls like the fist of a pacifist in “Dwija” while still holding in its relief the possibility of defense. “Glimpse” has its own story to tell, painting a lakeside soiree under hanging lights, each wrapped in fragile paper and lending purpose to a slow dance one wishes might never end. Such bittersweet softness is the album’s emotional eigentone, fashioning a double-edged sword between the urgency of “Imke” and the blissful “Amarma,” the thoughtfulness of which shows Lloyd’s true colors. Our leader is also irresistible in the celebratory “Figure In Blue, Memories Of Duke” (note also Stenson’s complementary touches) and the audio kiss of “The Blessing.” But Lloyd saves the best for last with “Brother On The Rooftop,” an ululating duet with drums that might very well have planted the seed for Which Way is East.
Every great jazz player knows how to tell a story. Yet Lloyd knows not only how to tell a story, but also binds it in soft leather and tools it into a one-of-a-kind symmetry. He needn’t even inscribe it, for his spirit is in the details. Never one afraid to think out loud, he lets us in on everything.
This hefty and delicious slice of cerebral offerings marks the last of ECM’s “Touchstones” releases, whereby the label was beset with the daunting task of boiling down a catalogue of over 1000 to a mere 40 defining titles.